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PC meeting, November 2020

posted 29 Oct 2020, 04:13 by N Day   [ updated 9 Feb 2021, 09:03 ]

Agenda for the November 2020 Parish Council meeting:

(click here to get a copy of the agenda in PDF form. The Clerk's notes are also available via this link. Minutes of the meeting are appended below, and the PDF version can be download using this link.)

From Catherine Fox, Clerk 28/10/2020:

The Next Meeting of the Parish Council will be held at 7:30 on Monday 2nd November 2020 via remote conferencing on Zoom (Meeting ID 313 378 5045, Password 941083) with Andrew Pett in the chair.

Please Note: Due to restrictions currently in place around COVID-19, there will be no physical meeting. Those who wish to comment on any item on the agenda are invited to join the Parish Council via ‘Zoom’. Councillors will not be making decisions about items not on the agenda. Any personal information given will be dealt with in line with the Parish Councils General Privacy Notice, full details of which can be found on the website.

All members of the Council are hereby summoned to attend for the purposes of considering and resolving the business to be transacted at the meeting as set out below.


1. Silent Prayer.

2. Apologies for absence.

3. Declarations of Interest.

(a) Councillors to declare any disclosable pecuniary interest in any items on the agenda;

(b) Councillors to declare any other interest in any items on the agenda.

4. Minutes.

Consideration of the minutes of the meeting on 5th October 2020 and also of the extraordinary meeting held on 16th October 2020.

5. Open Forum.

for 15 minutes to enable members of the public to bring any matters to the attention of the Parish Council.

6. Matters Arising.

1. Update on recruitment of new Reading Room Caretaker.

2. Reading Room Car Park Update – Update from Councillor Capps.

3. Neighbourhood Plan – report and update from Councillor Pett.

4. Water Bailiff.

5. Repair of broken swing.

7. Sportsfield Grass Cutting/Maintenance.

To consider arrangements for 2020/21.

8. Cemetery Extension Grazing Licence.

To consider the revised documentation.

9. Clerk’s Financial Statement. For October 2020 and Budget Review.

10. Cheques for Approval.

11. Precept for 2021/22. To consider the Parish Council’s budget.

12. Highways. Any repairs or maintenance needed.

13. Correspondence.

1. Luton Airport – proposed new hold area.

2. Closure of Waresley and Gransden Woods.

3. Nuisance Noise at the MUGA.

4. Audit of our accounts 2020 – External Auditors Certificate.

14. Planning.

To paint the exterior of No.18 Middle Street in the same colour as No.16 Middle Street.
18 Middle Street Great Gransden Sandy SG19 3AD.

15. Next Meeting: Monday 7th December at 7:30 pm.

Minutes of the meeting (also available in PDF format, see above)

Those present were:

  • Andrew Pett. Chairman;
  • Jeff Gorton, Parish Councillor;
  • Giles Scott; Vice Chairman;
  • James Catmur, Parish Councillor;
  • Catherine Fox, Clerk;
  • Lisbeth Ricciardi, Parish Councillor;
  • Michael Capps, Parish Councillor ;
  • Peter King, Parish Councillor;
  • Nick Ginn, Parish Councillor ;
  • Nigel Day, Parish Councillor;
  • District Councillor Richard West;
  • And 1 member of the public.
1. The meeting was opened at 7:30 pm with a silent prayer.

2. Apologies. Apologies were received from County Councillor Julie Wisson

3. Declarations of Interest. There were no declarations of interest.

4. Minutes of the previous monthly meeting held on 5th October 2020 and also of the extraordinary meeting held on 16th October 2020 which had been circulated, were approved and will be signed accordingly by the Chairman.

5. OPEN FORUM. The meeting was closed for 8 minutes.

Councillor West commented on the proposed new holding stack consultation for Luton airport.

NATS holdings (formerly National Air Traffic Services) are working with Luton Airport which could lead to more aeroplanes passing over our region when leaving a holding stack north of St Neots and continuing descent to Luton . Consultations remain ongoing around options to simplify the arrival routes for flights.

The areas affected are villages stretching from Boxworth to Papworth Everard and over to St Neots. Huntingdon, Alconbury and Brampton will also be affected by a potential increase in sound from 50dBA to 60dBA with aircraft stacking between 8,000 and 13,000 feet.

Councillor West also confirmed that the Government proposals for overhauling the planning system had been discussed at scrutiny and cabinet meetings. Following these discussions, the Strategic Planning Cabinet Member (Councillor Jon Neish) will be writing to Parish and Town councils with the local planning authority response. Councillor West fully supports the work of the Neighbourhood Development Plan and confirmed that the intention is that communities will set the agenda for planning within their own areas.

Councillor West had responded to a resident in relation to concerns that piling being undertaken by the Sand Road developers may potentially cause damage to his property. Having contacted the enforcement officer at HDC, Councillor West confirmed that this was a civil matter. Unfortunately, since the privatisation of the building regulators, controls and checks were looked after by internal teams and not by the council.

The closure of Waresley and Gransden woods been discussed at the Waresley-cum-Tetworth Parish Council meeting after the discussion it was agreed to write to Mark Ricketts of the Wildlife Trust requesting re-opening of the woods. Councillors of Great Gransden acknowledged the response by Waresley-cum-Tetworth and will discuss their response at item 13.2.

6. Matters Arising

6.1 Reading Room Caretaker Update. Councillor King confirmed that Georgia Yarrow had accepted the role of Caretaker at the Reading Room, effective 1st November. The final contracts are sill with the solicitors but have been approved. Once received, they will need to be signed by Cllr Pett and a second representative of the Parish Council. The rent will be paid to the Parish Council on the 1st of each month for the sum of £720.00. Councillor King proposed that salary payments should be made by standing order on the 28th of each month (or the nearest working day) to ensure that funds were received and cleared in a timely way. Similarly, the clerk’s salary (currently paid by cheque) should also be paid via a standing order. This was seconded by Councillor Pett and unanimously agreed. These automated payments will commence on 28th November 2020 and will be reported as payments made to the full council at each ordinary meeting thereafter.

6.2 Playing Field Car Park. Councillor Capps confirmed that there had still been no response to the request for quotations and therefore no further action had been taken. It was decided that the potential costs of resurfacing the car park were likely to be too high and that for now this would not be taken any further. However, lighting at the car park is still required – especially given the increased usage during the current times. Councillor Capps suggested that as trenches were dug to accommodate the lighting, it might be possible to ask the contractor to also fill in the potholes.

6.3 Neighbourhood Plan – Report and Update. Councillor Pett reported that the NDP steering group were next due to meet on 4th November 2020. At that meeting, a report would be finalised for publication on Touchbase. This will cover the same elements that were presented to the Parish Council in September – covering an overview of aims and objectives of the plan.

One of the issues raised by the NDP Steering Group was around a Ground Source Heat Project. Unfortunately, the current funding rules have changed and therefore no progress can be made on this at the moment. With the use of oil likely to become disallowed in the future this will need to be looked at again at a later date.

6.4 Water Bailiff. Unfortunately, due to a change in personal circumstances, the recently appointed Water Bailiff will no longer be able to continue to volunteer his expertise. Councillors noted the fantastic job that he had done with the weeds and plants so far. The Clerk has investigated the process for appointing another Water Bailiff. However, without a volunteer who already has the necessary qualifications and experience to voluntarily undertake the role, the process is not straight forward. Therefore, at this point in time, the Parish Council agreed that no further action should be taken.

6.5 Repair of broken swing. The toddler swing in the playground has been broken beyond repair. Quotes for its replacement had been requested from Wicksteed who are the manufacturers of the damaged one so that the swings match and are of equal quality. Councillors agreed to approve the quotation which is listed in item 10,

7. Sports field Grass Cutting/Maintenance
. Councillor Ginn confirmed that the current contractor had done a superb job with all users of the Sports field happy with the standard of cut being done. Councillors unanimously agreed to ask the existing contractors to tender again for 2021/22 on the existing specifications.

8. Cemetery Extension Grazing Licence
, A revised Grazing Licence had been received from the solicitors following the Parish Councils previous requests for amendment. Councillors felt that the revised version was a suitable agreement and unanimously agreed to accept it.

9. Financial Statement for October 2020. The sheet filed as Appendix No. 1 had been circulated. The statement was unanimously approved and signed by the Chairman. Councillors also noted the budget review as at the end of October 2020.

10. Cheques for approval. The following payments were approved:

Proposed Councillor Pett, seconded by Councillor Scott.
 1 Clerk’s salary for October 2020  £574.60
 2 Clerk’s Office expenses for October 2020 £26.58
 3 Playground Supplies Ltd
(Components for refurbishment of Wooden Train)
 4 CAPALC – Finance Training x2  £60.00
 5 CAPALC – Clerk’s Knowledge Training  £250.00
 6 Mrs C Fox – New Speedwatch Battery  £21.98
 7 PKF Littlejohn LLP – External Audit Fee 2019/20 £360.00
 8 Wicksteed Leisure Ltd (Replacement Toddler Swing) £208.32
 9 DP Garden Works and Grounds Maintenance
(Cemetery Grass Cutting – October)
 10 Mr R McIntosh – Garden of Remembrance
 11 Buchans Landscapes
(Sports field Grass Cutting – October)

11. Precept for 2021/22

A summary of receipts and payments had been circulated together with a proposed budget. Basic annual costs for next year were estimated to be £21,775. Councillors considered future costs of ongoing tree work, a possible contribution towards the LHI bid if the funding application is successful together with any increase in reserves. Councillors agreed to set aside £500 toward the Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) sinking fund, £1000 for street lights, and £500 for annual maintenance costs of the MUGA. A budget was also agreed for future Reading Room cottage works (to include the replacement windows and door) of £3500.00 and £2,000 for provision for the Reading Room village hall. Additionally, a provision was agreed for the Playing Field Car Park behind the Reading Room. In line with the amounts held for the Sports field carpark, this was agreed at £3000.00

The precept amount for 2021/22 was discussed at length. It was noted that in comparison to other similar villages within HDC, the precept amount was very low. The average Band D precept in parishes similar to Great Gransden is £77.28, whereas currently the Band D precept in the village is £56.05. Whilst not an ambition to meet the ‘average’ level, the comparison is helpful in highlighting parity with other villages. The Parish Council has several areas highlighted by residents that require expenditure. For example, the play equipment, provision for older children and traffic reduction/calming measures. Many of the facilities in the village are under increased usage as people spend more time in the immediate locality. An increase in the precept amount would allow the Parish Council to make a step-change by meaningfully enhancing services and amenities where previously it could not afford to do so.

Councillors considered the financial implications of an increase to residents, especially during the current pandemic. An increase to put the precept in line with that of other comparable villages would equate to an increase of approximately 50 pence a week for Band D properties (roughly £26 per year). It was felt that this increase could be justified in one go rather than by staggered increments and would mean an increase next year would be unlikely. A larger precept would help the Parish Council be in a position to respond to issues and feedback received in line with the NDP Touchbase publication (see item 6.3)

Taking these additional considerations into account alongside reserves and known expenses, Cllr Pett proposed raising the precept to £35,000, an increase of £10,000 on last year. Seconded by Cllr Scott and carried with 8 votes in favour and 1 abstention. The budget for 2021/22 was discussed and will be formally agreed at the next meeting.

12. Highways

12.1 Blocked drains in the village still remain an ongoing problem particularly on East Street/ Church Street. Drainage issues have been reported frequently with evidence of water now coming from underneath properties on Church Street – possible compromising foundations. Drainage issues have become increasingly apparent following the reduction in scheduled routine maintenance – symptomatic of financial restraints. Due to the severity of the drainage problems, all of the drains must be done – doing just one or two is not sufficient and will have little to no effect.

In Cllr Wisson’s absence, Cllr West will email Highways to highlight the pressing need for action to be taken.

12.2 The Oak Tree on Little Gransden Lane will be added to the inspection list. Associated issues and concerns can then be monitored and the landowners approached.

12.3 The elm trees near the Old Vicarage need attention. Unfortunately, after much time and financial cost they have become unattractive and are unsustainable. A proposal will be made regarding their future following the tree reports that are currently outstanding.

12.4 The Pothole at the bottom of Crow Tree Street has started to open up again despite being repaired on several occasions. Clerk to report to Highways once again.

12.5 Councillors noted that the hedge at the crossing of West Street at Little Lane had been cut back. This has much improved the visibility for people trying to cross at that point.

13. Correspondence

13.1 Councillors noted the proposed new hold areas for Luton Airport. It was felt that option 2 was preferred as it was slightly more favourable than Option 1 for residents of Great Gransden. There is little to no noise from commercial aircraft currently and therefore Councillors felt that the option offering the least noise would be better.

13.2 Councillors noted all correspondence received from villagers, including notification of the formation of an action group campaigning for the re-opening of the Waresley and Gransden Woods. Councillors felt that clearly a large amount of money had been spent on the erection of steel gates to prohibit access to the woods and questioned why this money was not spent on the drainage and ditches within the woods themselves. Funding had been received from the developers of Sand Road which was to be used to enhance and improve the woods – mitigating against any damage caused by a potential increase in visitors. The closure of woods does not suggest that works to this effect have been undertaken.

Councillor Pett suggested that a meeting could be arranged between Chairs of the local Parish Councils (Waresley-cum-Tetworth, Abbotsley, Gamlingay, Great Gransden) and the Wildlife trust so that the issues raised by all Parish Councils could be discussed. Clerk will draft a letter to the Trust summarising the details above and will copy in all other relevant Parish Council Clerks.

13.3 A complaint about nuisance noise had been received from a resident regarding the use of music on the MUGA (Multi-Use Games Area) by a commercial fitness class. Currently, there are no restrictions on the use of music on the MUGA nor on its usage for group fitness activities – noting that no other Parish facility would be available without a small charge. A policy around commercial usage currently does not exist. However, the introduction of a charge may intimate an informal agreement for usage which is in contravention of the no-booking policy of the MUGA. Councillors remain mindful of the benefits of the MUGA as a recreational facility for all and do not wish to curtail people’s enjoyment of it, especially at these difficult times. It was decided that commercial usage should be looked into in more detail at a later date. For now, the Clerk will contact the user in question and request that going forward, there is no music to be played so as not to cause disturbance to residents living in close proximity.

13.4 The report from the external auditors had been received with no findings.

14. Planning

To paint the exterior of No.18 Middle Street in the same colour as No.16 Middle Street
18 Middle Street Great Gransden Sandy SG19 3AD

Councillors unanimously recommended ‘Approval’ citing no reasons for objection.

15. The Next Meeting has been arranged for Monday 7th December 2020 at 7:30pm

This meeting closed at 9:33pm